Mayo Clinic: 1 in 4 one-time painkiller prescriptions become long term
Patients at risk of dependency urged to avoid opioid drugs
Consumer Affairs, July 7, 2015
Drugs prescribed by doctors to relieve pain often end up becoming the object of abuse as users quickly become addicted.
It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012. By contrast, about 467,000 are addicted to heroin.
The problem is opioids perform an important function in healthcare. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion.
Since almost all addiction to painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet start with a legitimate prescription, doctors at the Mayo Clinic wondered how many first-time users of an opioid drug went on to become long-term users. When they investigated, they discovered it was 25%. Read More
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